Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Using Hindi Keyboard with Android Phones

I am using my Android based Samsung Galaxy S plus phone since more than a year now. And I must say, buying this phone has been really a nice decision so far. Although at present, we have many new devices with a higher configuration at much lesser cost, still I am happy. One reason being, I can do most of the things what any other high-end mobile device is capable of. One recent experience is about using 'Google Hindi Input'.

Google recently launched an official app 'Google Hindi Input' for enabling Hindi typing on the Android based mobile devices. This app requires a minimum of Android 2.2 or above, and occupies just around 6.0 MB of space. I tried that on my phone, and its (now) working nicely. The official blog from Google do describe the way to use it, but they didn’t mention how to start / launch this after installation. So after finally figuring out the way to use it, here is my experience with Google Hindi Input:

First you need to download the 'Google Hindi Input' application from Google Play store. In the Google 'Play Store', i searched for the phrase 'google hindi input' and the first search result was the desired 'Google Hindi Input' app. 

After that, this was a simple installation procedure:


I downloaded and installed the app. Then I thought of trying it. I tried to create a new message in Hindi. However, I was not able to find the Hindi keyboard or letters anywhere. The input message options were still all the same English font only. I tried exploring all option in the Samsung keypad settings, but there were no whereabouts of this new Hindi keypad.

Just to confirm about the proper installation, I went back to the Google play store again. This was now displaying that the application is already installed.

It’s even showing in list of Downloaded apps under Manage Applications. 

So where is it? The official blog from Google do describe the way to use it, but they didn’t mention how to start / launch this after installation. Therefore, I gave it a try by doing general search and browsing or internet. One good source for hints was found as the description provided under the Google play store itself. Although, this did not worked out as end – to – end steps for my phone model, but it helped a lot.

For my phone, I did the following steps to enable the Hindi Input keypad. 
1) Go to Settings >Locale and text.  

Here tick the check box for 'Google Hindi Input'. This would permit your phone to use Google Hindi Input. 

But this is not done yet, after permitting your phone, you'll also need to select the Hindi Keypad to enable Hindi typing. This can be done in the following manner:

1) Open the text box where you would want to type something in Hindi. When you long press in the typing area, you get option to select 'Input method'. (You can also long press the small 'wheel' icon in the last row of the keypad. I did this when composing a new text message, and got the following screen:                

Select the 'Google Hindi Input' from the list of input methods shown:

Now you should get the keypad, which is demonstrated in the videos on the Official blogs of Google. 

From here onward  it’s all your experience and exploration. Do let me know in case anyone is still facing any issues in using this, and we can explore better ways of doing this together.

Monday, April 1, 2013

X Blogs - The Series - Part 3

(Story continues from X Blogs - The Series - Part 2)
X-Blogs Series Part 3: Coffee with Mr. X | Basic Mobile security concepts

Mr. Joshi: Alright, so you wanted to know more about securing your mobile phone.

Mr. Sibbal: Yes, I wanted to learn about mobile security.

Mr. Joshi: There seems some confusing with the naming here. When we say mobile security, it’s not just about security for your mobile phones. Mobile Security also includes security for the all moveable client devices that might be accessing information remotely.  But since your requirement is personally about securing your smartphone, we should be talking about that only.
  1. Personal Identification Number (PIN): Always protect your phone with the inbuilt security using PIN numbers.
  2. Installing new apps: When you install new apps on your phone, make sure the apps are downloaded from some trusted and secure source. This increase phone safety, and makes sure that the apps are not sending your personal data stored in your phone to some external sites.
  3. Install updates regularly: The OS makers know the loopholes in your OS, and keep sending the security patches often.   So the updates recommended by your phone’s OS should be applied immediately.
  4. Protection against lost or stolen phone: Make sure your phone has some smart features capable of revealing themselves at your will. You can use those features, like tracking the location over internet, theft alarms etc. in case your device is lost or stolen.

Mr. Thakur: Regarding this, I have also written a good blog post, which tells you about the three best security applications for your smartphone.

Mr. Sibbal: Oh, I would love to read that blog.

Mr. Thakur: Oh sure, I’ll share it with you.

Mr. Mahalik: Besides that, talking about mobile security at enterprise level, there are few more considerations. For instance, if suppose an organization like Advaiya wants to define new mobile device policy to allow use of personal mobile phones, they need to have the following considerations for implementing Enterprise Level Mobile Device Security Policies in their organization:
  •  They need to decide about the users who would be allowed to connect to the network.
  •  They need to ensure adequate and updated antivirus protection
  •  They must adhere to new developments, updating the policy, software and hardware as necessary (e.g. when a member of staff leaves).
  • They should emphasis on providing specific services to those who need it on the basis of sound business requirements. 

Mr. Sibbal: I think this again went from above my head. Did not understood much what you said about “Enterprise Level Mobile Device Security Policies” (Really big words to speak)

Mr. Saxena: So, what else you wanted to know about IT security Mr. Sibbal?

Mr. Sibbal: Oh, I also wanted to explore more about Database security, System Security, and Firewalls…

Ms. Chaudhary: But Mr. Sibbal, I am afraid we won’t be able to spare so much time for all the topics. We are here to work for our Web based application “PhotoMash”, and I need to manage many other tasks as well.

Mr. Sibbal: PhotoMash? What is that?

Mr. Paliwal: That is another web based photo search application that we are developing for another event for Hackethon. More details are strictly confidential.

Mr. Sibbal: Hmm… I really love the kind of job you people do have. I would like to join this organization after a finish my graduation.

Ms. Chaudhary: For this, there is a very simple selection procedure, open for all students. You may try that.

Mr. X: And in case of any problems or guidance required, just let me know. I’ll be there to help you out.

Mr. Sibbal: Thanks a lot Mr. X. Your support was really helpful for me in understanding my assignment topic well. 
(Read the previous blog X Blogs - The Series - Part 2 or the first part X Blogs - The Series - Part 1

X Blogs - The Series - Part 2

(Story Continues from X Blogs - The Series - Part 1)
X-Blogs Series Part 2: Sibbal Inside Advaiya | Basic Network security concepts & what they mean to Advaiya.

Characters involved:

Mr. Sibbal: First year student, XYZ Private Engg. College, Udaipur, who known nothing about IT (but pretends as if he is the IT minister of India). But he is very curious guy, and likes to explore new places and know new technical things.

Mr. V. Soni: Employee, Advaiya
Mr. A. Matta: Employee, Advaiya
Mr. S. Koduri: Employee, Advaiya
Mr. H. Thakur: Employee, Advaiya
Mr. V. Gupta: Employee, Advaiya
Mr. A. Paliwal: Employee, Advaiya
Mr. A. Mahalik: Employee, Advaiya
Ms. R. Chaudhary: Employee, Advaiya
Mr. S. Joshi: Employee, Advaiya
Mr. V. Saxena: Employee, Advaiya
Mr. X: A suspicious character; people call him a living encyclopedia of all IT security knowledge.

After the quick round of introductions, Mr. X asks the members of Anonymous-X team to provide some basic idea about what the team is doing.

Mr. Soni: Well, here in Advaiya, we are having various activities and events related to Ethical Hacking. This includes series of workshops, knowledge sharing sessions and a grand Hackethon event. This covers a good amount of learning and sharing of web & system security and ethical hacking tools and techniques.  This brings out the hacker inside everyone here, and displays our creativity & knowledge to others. 

Mr. Sibbal: This sounds really interesting.

Mr. X: Yes, it is. And that’s why I knew this is the right place for you to know more about IT security.

Mr. Soni: Now as our friend Mr. X told us, you are here to know something about IT security. If you want, we can touch base some of the basic IT security concepts in very simple terms. So what would you like to know first?

Mr. Sibbal: Well, maybe we can start with something about the network security. (But Mr. Sibbal skips the fact that this is the assignment he has to submit for his academics).

Mr. Soni: For Network Security, Mr. Matta has done lot of research here. So he is the right guy to explain you about this topic.

Mr. Matta: Network security, in very layman terms, can be referred as strategy for sending and receiving messages across a jargon of computers or other devices in a safe, secure and integrated manner. When we say safe (or authentic), we mean that the message is delivered to the desired receiver only, and is not lost or misplaced. For this, we can use simple authentication techniques, where the receiver of the message must prove his identity. When we say secure (or secrecy), it means that even if the message goes into wrong hands, he or she should not be able to understand it. For this, the message can be sent in some encrypted form, which only the sender and receiver can decrypt. When we say integrity (or message integrity), we mean that the message should be not be altered by any means during the transmission. Mr. James F. Kurose and Keith W. Ross have explained the same thing in their famous book on computer network, titled “Computer Networking: A Top-Down Approach Featuring the Internet”.

Mr. Sibbal: Oh Yes. My college seniors had once told me, that we have a complete subject on the topic “Computer Networks”, and we will be referring this book from Kurose-Ross only.

Mr. Gupta (who has very recently read the book in his on-going academics): Exactly! You will be reading the detailed concepts of Network Security, including principles of cryptography, Authentication methods, Integrity, Key Distribution and Certification, secure emails etc.

Mr. Sibbal: Frankly speaking, this sounds boring again.

Mr. Gupta: Then maybe I should tell you about some interesting part, about few fictitious characters Alice, Bob, and Trudy. Bob and Trudy are in love, and want to send secret messages to each other. But Trudy the-vamp does not like this. She always tries to obstruct their communication in all possible ways. Now Bob and Alice need to device secure ways to communicate with each other, without letting Trudy know what they are talking about.

Mr. Sibbal: Hmm…Now this sounds interesting.

Mr. Matta: In one of the recent events that were organized during Hackethon, various teams here had devised/used different encryption techniques to encrypt messages. The aim was to transmit a message to their team-mates without letting others know the actual message. And all the encryption algorithms were really very interesting, and every one enjoyed it a lot. To read and know more about the various encryption techniques devised by all the team, you can visit this link.

Mr. Sibbal: I got it now. But how exactly this thing relates to us here?

Mr. Soni: Alright. So let’s look at the practical applications of Network Security in Advaiya. Here, we work on various collaterals in different projects for different vendors. For these, clients often provide us with some confidential information, which they have not even released to the market yet. This includes new project prototypes/products (like Klab lab, Locus etc.), specifications of products that are not even launched (like Windows 8) or even the complete enterprise architecture models (IO Model), which they want us to work before they launch into market. And securing that information is one big concern of our organization. In order to ensure this, we are using some security techniques like firewalls, antivirus, user authentication, role based access, password protection.

Mr. Koduri:  And although we are not doing currently, but if required, we may also adopt the advanced level concepts, like encryption and password protection of all documents, so that even if the documents somehow leaks out of the premises, the information remains safe and secure.  We may also adopt some more secure network devices like crypto-capable routers or may be synchronize the existing bio-metric system with the Active Directory and use fingerprint mechanism for accessing internal portals and files. 

Mr. Saxena: We can also try PKI Architectures, SSL Certificates here. In fact, I have written interesting articles about the PKI architectures and SSL Certificates for this event itself. I think you should read that too.

Mr. Thakur: May be we should put these ideas in the suggestion box in the next monthly townhall sync.

Mr. X: This won’t be that easy Mr. Soni. For adopting any new security system, do need to consider a lot of factors, including economy. I have myself explained few of the members of your event about the concepts like Denial of Services and Single Sign-On . Please read the blogs for more details for the same.

Mr. Thakur: Putting suggestions is our responsibility, and we should be doing this. Taking appropriate actions based on those, I leave it up to the management. They know well what is best suitable for the company.

Mr. X: Alright, that is absolutely correct. So Mr. Sibbal, what is the next thing that you would want to know about.

Mr. Sibbal: Hmm. I am using a mobile phone for browsing internet, but I really don’t know much about securing it. I would like to know some more about mobile security.

Mr. Mahalik: But before that, I would like to have a small break. Let’s have some coffee in the cafeteria, and we will discuss more about mobile security there only.

Whole Team: Great Idea. We like that. Let’s move.
(Continue to X Blogs - The Series - Part 3 or Read the X Blogs - The Series - Part 1)

X Blogs - The Series - Part 1

Disclaimer - All the characters in this series of blogs are almost real, and resemblance to any known characters is purposefully drafted to add some elements of humor to the blog. No offenses otherwise !!!

Characters: Characters in this blog will be introduced at a later stage as appropriate.
X Blog Series presents a series of blog articles, covering various IT security topics in an interesting and innovative manner. It not just covers the basic topics, but also relates them with practical examples around us. Scope of information is not just a corporate level contest, but also educating people about the very basics of security concepts in a very easy to understand language.

X-Blogs Series P1: Sibbal meets X | Why is IT security important

One fine Saturday morning, Mr. Sibbal, a first year student doing B.E. from a private college in Udaipur (Rajasthan, India), was sitting on a bench in Gulab-Bagh Garden, browsing internet on his newly bought Nokia N8 Mobile phone. It appeared that he had just finished his morning jogging, and is relaxing on the bench. A closer look revealed, that he was checking his statistics about the number of steps he had ran this morning, using “Wellness Diary” application. Then he started browsing his emails. His friend had sent in a mail about the assignment given in class yesterday. “Network Security” he said, “that’s a silly topic”. “There could have been better topics, like Social Networks, or Mobile Internet or just facebook….nobody has interest in security!!” Suddenly, a heavy voice was heard “You should take interest in that”. Out of the fog, appeared a shadow.

“Who are you?” asked Mr. Sibbal.

“My name is X!” said that gentleman. “And I am here to tell you, that ‘Network security’ is an interesting and important subject. It is really the need of the hour, so you should take interest in it.”

Mr. Sibbal: Network security is a buzz word for US and other developed countries, where people are very much dependent on technology, and keep all a digital copy of all their personal information.  I have seen many Hollywood movies (like Swordfish) about using ultra-super gadgets to break into the toughest of defense networks, getting the desired files, and then running away, bombing whole of the place away. These are real fancy things, but I don’t think there is so much scope and level of the hackers here in this country. In developing countries like India, there is very little scope of theft and misuse of digital information, so I think I rather should take it easy.

Mr. X: This is not really correct. Recent studies show that cyber-crime is rising in India at alarming levels. According to the reports by Security and Defense Agenda (SDA) and McAfee, amongst all the nations worldwide, India holds fifth spot in all cyber-crime affected countries. Did you know, during the Commonwealth Games 2010, the government websites were attacked 200 times by cyber criminals!!

MR. Sibbal: Alright, but I don’t have any website of myself. I am just a normal internet user, accessing Gmail and Facebook occasionally. I really don’t think I need some special security for my information.

Mr. X: That is another misconception. India is adopting the internet technology, specially mobile internet technology at a rapid rate. According to some facts, India has just one percent of population using internet (i.e. just 100 million people), out of which 59% are using mobile devices to access internet, and almost negligible number of these devices have any security applications installed. And this number is growing at an annual rate of 34%. To ensure a healthy growth, India is definitely going to need serious security measures to keep the rapidly growing internet usage a safe and secure experience for people.

Mr. Sibbal: Alright, the numbers are quite impressive. But I am not a technology junkie, and I just know the regular steps of accessing internet. I even don’t know what kind of internet related crimes can occur when I am browsing internet. How can I make sure that I am using internet securely.

Mr. X: Alright. So first of all, you should know the various possible ways of in which you may get convicted of cyber-crimes. Dr. John A. Marshall, Department of Technology, University of Southern Maine has published a nice journal about various crimes that are usually encountered by the novice internet users like you.  This list includes:

Fraudulent Schemes on the Internet: Email messages stating that you have won a huge amount in lottery. They usually ask for personal details, your bank account number, and very often, some money in name of processing charges.
-  Viruses: Viruses or worms, usually spreading through spam, that can damage and destroy your hardware or software.
-  Programs stealing sensitive information:   Computer programs (referred as cookies) that automatically get downloaded on your hard drive while surfing, which can send sensitive information back to websites.
-  Hackers: Computer Hackers, who break into your system and database, stealing confidential information like passwords or credit card details.
-  Hardware Theft: Masked men armed with guns.

Mr. Sibbal: What? Masked man with guns stealing computers is a cyber-crime?

Mr. X: Well, may be Dr. John added the last factor just to add some humor to his report, but yes, the other factors are really the serious issues faced by the novice internet users.

Mr. Sibbal: Oh yes, I do agree. These things are really some good factors to worry. How can I make sure that I do not get convicted of any such incident?

Mr. X: Regarding this, I can take you to a place, which is currently becoming a hotspot for many activities related to information security, network security, internet security and cyber-security.

Mr. Sibbal: Where?

Mr. X: Advaiya!!!

Mr. Sibbal: Advaiya?

Mr. X: Yes, Advaiya Solutions, Udaipur. They have organized a Hack-a-month event, and Hackethon challenge, that includes various fun activities and events. Each of the events covers different security aspects, like Cryptography, Network Security, Browser Security, Authentication and Authorization and many other interesting topics. If you could be a part of it, it would be really educative for you.

Mr. Sibbal: But will they allow me to be a part of their private event.

Mr. X: Don’t worry; I know a team of this event, named as Anonymous-X team. They can help you gaining some useful information that you are looking for.

Mr. Sibbal: Alright. Can you please make the arrangements?

Mr. X: Ok. I will. Till then, you just prepare a list of specific questions that you would want to know.

Mr. Sibbal: Ok. I will. Thanks a lot Mr. X.

(Continue reading at X Blogs - The Series - Part 2 )

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